Lauren Russell: Begotten, Not Made
& Of Mice and Monsters

Begotten, Not Made

00:00 / 00:00

I do not believe in astrology, despite my appearance.
I’m always a hippy for Halloween, to avoid hassle
and expense. But this year an old friend laughed
and said, “You can’t be what you already are!” I am no
hippy, as I don’t like weed. Yet I believe in Jesus Christ
, in Judas’s bell bottoms, in the dreadlocks
of Simon Zealotes. I believe in Andrew Lloyd Webber,
but I do not believe in the spiritual properties of crystals
or that poetry in America can avoid being capitalist.
I do not believe in “true love,” but I believe in cats, flannel
nightgowns, and temporary relief from throat coat tea,
in banjo music, Roget’s Thesaurus, and the semi-permanence
of ink. I believe that solitude has many windows, and I rely
on the breeze. Cross-ventilation has its perks, like cross
pollination. I almost bought a HYBIRD VIGOR tee-shirt
but worried it might smack of multi-ethnic alpha race
neo-eugenical belief. I’m not sure I believe in natural selection,
I who would be unselected (the third in my line born
with a misplaced artery, alive due to class, health insurance,
and surgery)—myopia, allergies, tendencies perceived
as “insanity.” I do not believe in the survival of my species.
I believe in science but not in scientists, talking too loudly
in the limo behind the hearse. Someone said that empiricism
is imperialist, but what is Christianity, then? I don’t believe
in Virgin Birth or Resurrection or the Nicene Creed,
but I say it anyway, with nostalgia for belief. Sometimes
I almost believe in ghosts—that night of the fever, bareheaded
in the rain, dizzying home, while across a continent, he went cold.

Of Mice and Monsters

00:00 / 00:00

Workers widened all the doorways to accommodate her shoulder pads. “It was difficult,” remarked Jesus Christ, 33, a carpenter hired for the project. “In one case the whole building collapsed.”


Newspapers in Sweden reported that two of the country’s most heinous murderers apparently fell in love with each other behind the locked doors of their psychiatric institution, and following a 26-day Internet-chat “courtship,” have decided to marry.

SkaraCannibel: XOXO
VampireWoman: *XXX*



At the Morbid Academy, about 20 students learn to transform the bodies of dead white mice into human-like pantomimes. In one example, a white mouse holds a miniature classical guitar. In another, a mouse wearing a pink bow on its head reads a tiny facsimile of The New York Times. You can see the headline with a magnifying glass:


“But the Panopticon was also a laboratory; it could be used as a machine to carry out experiments, to alter behaviour, to train or correct individuals.”

∗    ∗    ∗

Invitations precalligraphied to fill in the blanks:

Dr. and Mrs.    X   

Lord and Lady    Y   

Rev. and Mr.    G   

Anonymous    +1   

Rear Admiral and    Manx Cat   

who is dismayed by the taste of the Times-reading mouse

… the instructor having sucked out its blood with a syringe beforehand. Strange and morbid as it might seem, anthropomorphic taxidermy—the practice of mounting and displaying taxidermied animals as if they were humans or engaged in human activities—has a long and storied history.

∗    ∗    ∗


Mr. Isakin Jonnson (“the Skara Cannibal”) was convicted of killing, decapitating, and eating his girlfriend, and Ms. Michelle Gustafsson (“the Vampire Woman”) was convicted of killing a father of four and drinking his blood. Said the love-struck Jonnson (certainly truthfully), “I have never met anyone like Michelle.”


It begins with torturing small animals,
like possums, squirrels, and mice


Would you rather be:

❏  Slurped up by a snake.
❏  A toy for an overindulged housecat, who will only
      eventually break your neck.
❏  Poisoned and posthumously outfitted in a tutu and
      polka dot barrettes.

Check one only.

∗    ∗    ∗

The festivities begin with the couple’s personal rendition of “Born This Way,” accompanied by Steve Reich’s xylophone players, one sounding his instrument an agonizing half-beat behind the other.


The exchange of the vowels

— A — E — I — O —


Jesus Christ, lead guitarist, officiating


“Is her gown made of live animals?”

(one white mouse escaped, only to drown in the champagne)


“To control mice you must think like a mouse,” said Michael F. Potter, an extension entomologist at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.


The bride and groom toast their future, bellowing different overripe power ballads from opposite sides of their skittering cells.


NOTE: “Of Mice and Monsters” includes quotations from Michel Foucault’s essay “Panopticism” from Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. It also incorporates material, loosely adapted and sometimes adulterated, from the blog and from the column “News of the Weird,” the latter authored by Chuck Shepherd and published in Pittsburgh City Paper March 7th – 14th, 2012. I first read “To control mice, you must think like a mouse” in a now lost New York Times article, but it may have originally come from an essay by Michael F. Potter available on the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s website. Jesus Christ is identified as the name of Lady Gaga’s guitarist on a May 2011 HBO special featuring footage from the Monster Ball Tour shows at Madison Square Garden.


ART: Teri Frame, Line Kallmayer

FICTION: Matt Dojny, Jessica Halliday, Corey Zeller

NONFICTION: Brandel France de Bravo, Line Kallmayer, Ben Merriman, Nicole Walker

POETRY: Mary Jo Bang, Sam Cha, Ching-In Chen, Natalie Eilbert, John Estes, Jessica Fjeld, Margaret LeMay, Nina Puro, Lauren Russell, Dara-Lyn Shrager, Donna Stonecipher, Henry Walters, Kerri Webster, Betsy Wheeler

00:00 / 00:00